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Abbeyleix, County Laois, Ireland
Mainistir Laoise
Abbeyleix, Main St
Abbeyleix, Main St
Abbeyleix, County Laois, Ireland is located in Ireland
Abbeyleix, County Laois, Ireland
Abbeyleix, County Laois, Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 52°54′50″N 7°20′56″W / 52.914°N 7.349°W / 52.914; -7.349Coordinates: 52°54′50″N 7°20′56″W / 52.914°N 7.349°W / 52.914; -7.349
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
County County Laois
Elevation 95 m (312 ft)
Population (2006)[1]
 • Town 2,569
 • Urban 1,568
 • Environs 1,001
Irish Grid Reference S435850

Abbeyleix (/ˈæbiliks/; Irish: Mainistir Laoise, meaning "Laois Abbey") is a town in County Laois, Ireland about 14 km (9 mi) from Portlaoise and located on the N77 national secondary route. Formerly the N8 National Primary Route ran through the centre of the town, making Abbeyleix an infamous bottleneck on the Dublin-Cork corridor with up to 15,000 vehicles passing through the main street every day. However the town was bypassed by the M8 motorway on 28 May 2010.


Abbeyleix is one of the oldest planned estate towns in Ireland. It was largely built in the 18th century by Viscount de Vesci and is situated near a 12th-century Cistercian monastery beside the River Nore around which the original village would have grown up. Today, there is a large range of historical structures still standing in and around the small heritage town - ancient ring forts, burial grounds, churches and beautiful estate houses. The town once had a carpet factory, established in 1904 by Yvo de Vesci, the 5th Viscount – notably producing some of the carpets used on the RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic.[2]

Heritage House is the heritage centre, with visitor information and an exhibition on the county's history and local attractions. Original antique carpets and vintage costumes are on display alongside archaeological and historical artefacts. The enclosed playground on site has attractive wooden play equipment with a maritime theme, to tie in with the Titanic connection. Heritage House is open from Tuesday to Saturday between 9am and 5pm.


Access to the M8 motorway to Cork is provided via the R433 road, while the N77 road links the town with the Dublin-Limerick M7 and to Kilkenny.

Abbeyleix railway station opened on 1 March 1865 and closed on 1 January 1963.[3]

Bus Eireann's expressway service between Dublin and Cork ceased to serve Abbeyleix on 30 June 2012. As an interim measure until 11 August 2012 Bus Éireann operated a shuttle service (route 128) to connect with Expressway services at Portlaoise.[4] Slieve Bloom Coaches also have a route from Borris-in-Ossory to Portlaoise which serves the town.[5]


There is a District Hospital in the town, and a number of shops and pubs, such as Morrissey's Pub which claims to be the oldest in Ireland. The Father Breen Park is the site of a great many activities, providing fields for soccer, football and other sports, while the adjacent CYMS hall is home to numerous clubs, such as boxing and Tae-Kwon-Do. Heritage House also provides guided tours of the museum and runs workshops throughout the year; training and meeting rooms are available. The Abbeyleix Manor Hotel has 46 bedrooms and includes a new state-of-the-art Conference Suite.


Abbeyleix is part of the Borris-in-Ossory Electoral Area for Laois County Council. The area is largely regarded as supportive of the Fianna Fail party in both local and Dáil Éireann elections.[6]

Buildings of note[edit]

Restoration of Market House (November 2007)
Plaque on Market House
  • Abbeyleix Market House is a five-bay, two-storey building which was until 2005 used as a Fire Station and Library. It has been renovated as a state-of-the-art library and exhibition centre.
  • The de Vesci estate on the Ballacolla road with its beautiful gardens is open to the public one day a year. All proceeds from this opening are given to a local charity.
  • Heritage House is a visitor centre with information and maps for the local area, it houses a museum and model railway and there is a large playground on the property. Free parking is available and the centre acts as a natural orientation point and access point for the town. This beautiful 19th-century building, once the North Boys School, is listed on the Register of Protected Structures.
  • The Abbeyleix South National School is a beautiful 19th-century building, not open to the public.
  • Morrissey's public house on Main Street is a must for any visitor to the town.
  • Preston House on Main Street is an old school house.
  • Sextons House is a renovated 19th-century cottage, run by Abbeyleix Heritage Company. Tours and all access may be obtained via Heritage House.
  • Abbeyleix Further Education Centre, located on the Mountrath Road, is housed in a former Technical School and is a good example of the school architecture of the time.

Notable residents[edit]

  • Launt Thompson (1833–1894), born in Abbeyleix, was a noted sculptor.[7]
  • Sir Edward Massey (died 1674), soldier and statesman, owned the manor which is present-day Abbeyleix.
  • The renowned artist Francis Bacon spent a number of summers living with his grandmother in Farmleigh House just outside the town.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Census 2006 – Volume 1 – Population Classified by Area" (PDF). Central Statistics Office Census 2006 Reports. Central Statistics Office Ireland. April 2007. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-21. 
  2. ^ "Titanic Carpet Factory". Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  3. ^ "Abbeyleix station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-08. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963. 

External links[edit]